Air Cargo Demand Maintains Double-Digit Growth in February

Source: IATA; Air Cargo News
Date: 3rd April 2024

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for February 2024 global air cargo markets showing continuing strong annual growth in demand.

Total demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs*), rose by 11.9% compared to February 2023 levels (12.4% for international operations). This is the third consecutive month of double-digit year-on-year demand growth.

Capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), increased by 13.4% compared to February 2023 (16.0% for international operations). This was largely related to the increase in international belly capacity accompanying growth in passenger markets (29.5% year-on-year increase), which far exceeded international capacity on freighters (3.2% year-on-year increase).

“February’s demand growth of 11.9% far outpaced the 0.9% expansion in cross-border trade. This strong start for 2024 could see demand surpass the exceptionally high levels of early 2022. It also shows air cargo’s strong resilience in the face of continuing political and economic uncertainties,” said the IATA’s Director General.

Several factors in the operating environment should be noted:

  • Global cross-border trade increased by 0.9% in January.
  • In February, the manufacturing output Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) climbed to 51.2, indicating expansion. The new export orders PMI also rose to 49.4, remaining slightly below the 50 threshold that would indicate growth.
  • February year-on-year inflation dropped to 2.8% in the EU while rising to 2.8% and 3.2% in Japan and the US respectively. After four months of deflation, China reported a 0.7% increase in inflation year-on-year—a positive development amid concerns over China’s economic slowdown.

Air Cargo Market in Detail

February Regional Performance
Asia-Pacific airlines saw 11.9% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in February. This was a significant decrease compared to January’s 24.3% year-on-year growth, likely related to slowing activity after the Lunar New Year celebrations. Capacity increased by 23.1% year-on-year as belly capacity came online with recovery in the passenger business.

North American carriers saw 4.2% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in February—the weakest among all regions. Demand on the North America–Europe trade lane grew by 5.2% year-on-year while Asia–North America grew by 3.9% year-on-year. February capacity increased by 1.9% year-on-year.

European carriers saw 14.6% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in February. Intra-European air cargo rose by 24.5% year-on-year—the strongest performance in almost three years. Europe – Middle East routes saw demand grow by 39.3% year-on-year, while Europe – North America expanded by 5.2% year-on-year. February capacity increased 13.2% year-on-year.

Middle Eastern carriers saw 20.9% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in February. The Middle East–Europe market was the strongest performing with +39.3% growth, far ahead of Middle East-Asia which grew by 21.9% year-on-year. February capacity increased 16.2% year-on-year.

Latin American carriers saw 13.7% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in February. Capacity increased 8.9% year-on-year.

African airlines saw 22.0% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in February—the strongest among all regions. The intra-Africa trade lane showed 42.3% year-on-year growth. February capacity increased by 28.2% year-on-year.

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